a year of morning thanks
Doesn't happen often out here that snow comes straight down and puts an angel food cake on your car--or on the table on the deck, something I should have carried off and into the barn a month ago--or on the rails, like this. Very rare.
Friday, we got dumped on, heavy snow, as if the Great Lakes were just a short amble down the road. Out here on the edge of the Great Plains, it's an unusual snowfall that doesn't come down sideways and make the wind feel like a ratchet against your cheeks.
The northwest wind came yesterday, blowing all that fluff into terror, turning open fields into moon-like landscapes that offer their own kind of rare beauty, a vision that would be worth looking at if you could stand being out there for more than ten minutes. But the weather right now is--literally--killing; and your body tells you that in no uncertain manner, even if a man or woman shows no more flesh than a Zorro-mask leaves open, everything else layered in wool or down or fleece. The only beast known to thrive in such horror is the buffalo. I'm not kidding. Even the squirrels scramble, pulling all kinds of acrobatic stunts in our trees to get what few berries remains.
When it's bitter cold, it's sometimes hard to understand why anyone--me included--would choose to live here on the Plains, or anywhere in the Upper Midwest, for that matter. January puts us all in prison. If you have to go out, you amble along as fast you can, risking a blowing an ankle or cracking a rib on one hand, and rigor mortis on the other. Sure, if you listen long enough, you'll hear a chorus of whiny snowmobiles--some people thrive, too, I guess; but it's lock-up time right now.
It's ugly here right now. Maybe that's why the Lord gave us sun dogs. They don't come out of their kennels until it's -20 or so, but when they do--and when people take the time to spot them--they light up the sky strangely, refracting the sun's own immense brilliance.
They're miniature rainbows, sort of. That's what I tried to tell my granddaughter yesterday, when the two of us went Christmas shopping. She wasn't impressed when I stopped at the cemetery and took this shot from an open car window. She hadn't gone out in the horror to hear her grandpa talk about the beauty of sun dogs.
No matter. Someday she too might just have to look up from some frozen wasteland to see something beautiful. There are times in our lives, I'm convinced, that we simply have to look and have to see. Keep a place in your heart for beauty, Pascal once wrote--or something like it. One of the great blessings of living here, any time of year--even now--is the great sky.
That's what I tried to tell her. Then we went to Wal-Mart.